Angra dos Reis: A pocket guide
Angra dos Reis is a beautiful coastal getaway—the name means “bay of kings”—and a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro. Part of Brazil’s Costa Verde, the municipality encompasses some 365 tropical islands, a handful of which are privately owned, and some 2,000 beaches. The region is ruggedly beautiful, making Angra the natural starting point from which to explore the chain of islands that peppers its vast bay. For the best beaches, follow the Estrada do Contorno to Bonfim, Retiro, and Gordas, as well as Brava Beach, the best surf spot in the region. At the very end of the bay is Ilha Grande, an island of mangroves, lagoons, and lush vegetation growing from the rocky coast—one of the last ecosystems of its kind to have survived in the region of Rio, a bonus of the island’s sinister past: Once inhabited by pirates, it later became a leper colony and then a prison. Traveling inland, you come to the 1,500-kilometer-long range of Serro do Mar, its 7,000-foot peaks traversed by hiking trails, some not so difficult and others best left to experienced climbers. A coastal road brings you to the Portuguese town of Paraty; the 90-minute scenic drive takes you past mountains and turquoise ocean views. Situated on an island-studded bay, Paraty is one of Brazil’s most appealing destinations and can become crowded through the summer holiday months, its tumbling cobblestone streets filled with pedestrians (leave your vehicle just short of the town, as it is closed to motor vehicles). With luxurious beachside bungalows in abundance throughout the islands, along with several opulent hotels, you can end the day in comfort and vibrant Brazilian elegance.